My mother still reminds me that I always wished I could be locked in the library when I was a kid. No place had more magic. Chris Grabenstein captures all of that magic of a library, along with the fun of game playing, as he pits twelve-year-olds against each other in his own reality show, Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library.
Kyle Keeley never thought he'd be the star of anything. As the youngest of three brothers, he wasn't the jock or the smart one. He was the one who was always in trouble, but he loved games, particularly the ones created by a former resident of Kyle's Alexandriaville, Ohio hometown, Mr. Lemoncello. And, as a goof-off, he wasn't interested in an essay contest at school until he learned the winners could get to spend the night in the new library before anyone else could get in. And, Mr. Lemoncello gave the money for the library, a building it took five years to build to his specifications.
A dozen twelve-year-olds are selected to compete for a special prize after they win the essay contest, and spend the night in the library. Kyle, who loves games, quickly realizes the fun of the competition. But, he's pitted against a wealthy boy determined to win no matter what the cost. And, it's going to take some knowledge of libraries, books, and some street smarts to win the game by finding the way out of the library.
Mr. Lenoncello's library is a gift to his hometown. The old library was destroyed twelve years earlier, knocked down to build a parking garage at a time when people thought they didn't need libraries. "These twelve children have lived their entire lives without a public library. As a result, they have no idea how extraordinarily useful, helpful, and funful...a library can be. This is their chance to discover that a library is more than a collection of dusty old books. It is a place to learn, explore, and grow!"
Chris Grabenstein's book, designed for eight to twelve-year-olds, is a little Charlie and the Chocolate Factory mixed with reality show competitions and literary trivia. It's a love letter to libraries, but it's not a boring book that will turn kids off. It's fun, competitive, and filled with adventure. And, if I was a kid, I wouldn't really want to Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library.
Chris Grabenstein's website is www.chrisgrabenstein.com
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein. Random House. 2013. ISBN 9780375870897 (hardcover), 304p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The author sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.